Money: Understanding and Creating Alternatives to Legal Tender

Money: Understanding and Creating Alternatives to Legal Tender

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Money: Understanding and Creating Alternatives to Legal Tender by Thomas Greco, Karen Kerney

Cash. Loot. Scratch. Lucre. Bread. Coin. Scrip. Moolah. Green. We all think we know intuitively what money is, and what it can do for us. Tom Greco, director of the Community Information Resource Center, understands and explains money on an eye-popping, fundamental level. Moreover, he provides a roadmap on how to make alternatives to the "legal tender" work for individuals, communities, and local economies.

Money will set your mental gears spinning with fantastic ideas. This book explains the mysteries and realities of money in clear and accessible prose, and reveals the true workings, and alarming fragility, of our existing financial system. It also describes concrete and realistic actions that individuals, businesses, social service agencies, and governments can take to enhance productivity and purchasing power, to protect local economies from the ravages of globalization, and to strengthen the bonds of community.

Money is a radical critique of our existing financial system, but also a practical and inspirational how-to manual for creating a vibrant and effective community currency system.
You'll learn:

  • The truth about how money is created, and what it actually represents
  • Why we're all in debt
  • How the financial system is structured to inevitably transfer wealth from the poor to the rich
  • How to start a financial revolution in your local community

A retired professor of business and economics, Tom Greco has spent twenty years studying community currency systems around the world, including historical models (such as during the Great Depression), and the scores of contemporary examples now operating in the United States, Canada, Europe, South America, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. He helped establish the Tucson Traders currency in Arizona, and he has served as a consultant for many others. No pie-in-the-sky idealist, Greco offers a realistic vision of how healthy local economies can be supplemented with flourishing community currencies.

Anyone who works routinely with money needs this book--this means bankers, stockbrokers, merchants, community organizers, loan sharks, gamblers, investors, bank robbers, hedgefund operators, sports agents, and ordinary people.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781603581882
Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
Publication date: 11/01/2001
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Thomas H. Greco, Jr. is the director of the Community Information Resource Center, which he founded in 1992. CIRC is a nonprofit consulting organization and networking hub dedicated to economic equity, social justice, and community improvement, specializing in community currency and mutual credit design, development, and implementation. He is a former engineer and professor of business administration. Tom's books include Money and Debt: A Solution to the Global Crisis, Money: Understanding and Creating Alternatives to Legal Tender, and The End of Money and the Future of Civilization. For more information on re-creating money systems, visit another webpage of Tom's, Reinventing Money (

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsxiii
Part I.Monetary Realities and Official Illusions
1.What's the Matter with Money?3
Symptoms of Disease4
Three Ways in Which Conventional Money Malfunctions4
How Money Is Created4
Sidebar: An Example of Money Creation8
Why There Is Never Enough Money8
How Money Is Misallocated9
How Money Pumps Wealth from the Poor to the Rich11
Sidebar: For Whom the Debt Tolls12
2.Community Currency and the New World Order13
Why Community Currencies?13
The New World Order14
Gaia Consciousness and Human Unity15
Correcting Past Errors16
3.The Power and Place of Money18
The Power Inherent in Money18
The Place of Money in Human Interaction19
The Body Economic20
4.What Is Money?22
The Essential Nature of Money23
The Exchange Process and the Purpose of Money24
Historical Forms of Money25
The Money Circuit26
Bank Credit Money and the Interest Burden29
5.The Disintegration of Local Economies34
Levers of Power, Then and Now34
The Evolution of Money35
Social Control through Control of Money and Finance37
Social Disintegration37
The End of Empires39
6.Money, Power, and the U.S. Constitution41
Measuring Value and Defining the Dollar43
The Consolidation of Money Power43
7.Restoring Local Economies46
Healthy Communities, Healthy World47
Two Fundamental Strategies48
Small (and Local) Is Beautiful49
How to Bring Money under Local Control50
Community Banking and the Liberation of Money50
The Role of Community Currencies51
Part II.Complementary Currencies, Past and Present
8.A Brief History of Community Currencies and Private Exchange Systems57
Scrip of the Great Depression58
WIR: The Swiss Wirtschaftsring67
Legal Considerations68
Lessons Learned68
The Deflation Dilemma70
Railway Notes70
Sidebar: The "Constant" Currency of Ralph Borsodi73
An Early Proposal for a Credit Clearing System74
9.Global Finance, Inflation, and Local Currencies76
Why Central Governments and Central Banks Don't Like Local Currencies76
The Argentine Experience82
10.New Wave Pioneers86
Barter, Reciprocal Trade, and Mutual Credit86
Commercial "Barter" or Trade Exchanges87
LETS: Local Employment and Trading System89
The Berkshire Experiments94
Ithaca HOURS95
Service Credits and Time Dollars98
Update on the Pioneers99
11.Recent Models and Developments101
Tucson Traders101
The doMAK "Barter" Circle106
Toronto Dollars, "Money That Builds Community"107
Friendly Favors112
Equal Dollars (=$s)114
The Developing World Takes the Lead115
Part III.Monetary Transformation and Community Empowerment
12.Currency Fundamentals127
Basis of Issue128
Regulation of the Amount of Exchange Media Supplied128
Power to Issue129
What Gives a Currency Credibility?130
Forms and Devices134
13.Mutual Credit: The Foundation for Community Currencies136
What Is Mutual Credit?136
How a Mutual Credit System Works138
Basic Steps in Organizing a Mutual Credit System140
Continuing Issues in Mutual Credit Systems142
Strategies for Enhancing Mutual Credit Systems and Gaining Acceptance144
14.Basic Currency Types: A Classification Scheme145
Different Breeds of Cat: Community Currencies Are Not All Created Equal145
Good Paper vs. Bad Paper146
Types of Currencies146
Sidebar: Harvey Bucks158
15.A Note on Interest164
Interest or Usury?165
Toward Better Forms of Exchange167
What about Charges on Credit Balances?167
Sidebar: A Story of Robinson Crusoe168
16.Medium of Exchange or Savings Medium?172
Conflicting Roles of Money172
Saving and Investment173
How Do We Save?173
Preventing Stagnation in Mutual Credit Systems174
Current Account vs. Capital Account175
Sidebar: Mutual Credit Loans: An Example176
Interest Revisited176
Basis of Issue Revisited177
Part IV.Currency Design, Improvement, and Innovation
17.Improving Local Currencies, or How to Make a Good Thing Better181
Gift Exchange vs. Reciprocal Exchange182
Money Is an IOU182
Basis of Issue183
Mutual Credit and Paper Notes183
Essential Differences between LETS and HOURS183
How HOURS Work184
Fish or Fowl?185
How Are Ithaca HOURS Issued?189
Adding a Capital Cushion191
Using Excess Business Capacity to Support Local Currency191
Combined Bases of Issue195
18.How to Design and Implement a Community Exchange System197
Summary Prescription198
Detailed Guidelines199
19.A Business-Based Community Currency213
Community Trading Coupons214
20.Currency Alternatives for Impersonal Markets220
Grain Banks and a Commodity-Based Currency221
Comparison to Conventional Money224
21.Good Money for Good Work227
Community Service Coupons227
Earth Rescue Receipts (ERRs)232
Sidebar: ERR Questions and Answers234
Funded Temporary Receipts (FTRs)236
Sidebar: FTR Questions and Answers239
22.Youth Employment Scrip (YES)241
The Youth Problem242
The Money Problem244
How Does the YES Program Work?245
Benefits of the YES Project247
Involving Local Businesses248
Program Participants and Agreements249
Sidebar: YES Questions and Answers252
Appendix ANote on Banking as a Profession, and Its Reform257
Appendix BNote on the Proper Basis of Issue for Currency, and the Means of Financing Capital Investments and Consumer Durables260
Sources and Resources277

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